Saturday, September 06, 2014

To Assist or Not to Assist

how to assist
By Sangeetha Saran

There are various categories of students. Similarly, there are various kinds of teachers - Teachers who are over-enthusiastic and teachers who hardly pay attention. Neither is an attribute you’d want in your teacher. A teacher needs to make the right decision, which differs, for every student. No single method works on all students, teachers have to get a little creative and find a way to work out with the student in a way the student feels comfortable.

The primary and most basic function of a teacher is to teach. The assistance that a teacher provides is subject to the situation faced by the teacher and at times by the student. Assisting students is not a compulsion for any teacher, it is the teacher’s own passion that makes her assist every student that requires it.

Assistance therefore is a positive attribute in a teacher. But there are two sides to every coin. Overly assisting a student may sometimes lead to lack of confidence. Student may become way too dependent on the teacher for daily yoga practice. The component of “going with the flow” of own body will be absent. Without this yoga loses its effect on the practitioner’s body.

·      Overly enthusiastic teachers: There are teachers who try to assist the students, in good faith of course, since they are very passionate about their profession and they try to teach the student every little step. This works fine unless it becomes a regular practice. If the teacher persists with this method, the student loses the touch of self-learning and becomes more dependent on the teacher than advisable. Student will need assistance more and more frequently as the time passes because yoga is a process of slowly making your body carve its path into positions it wasn’t initially able to get into. The only way to do this is by carving your own path, and with minimum outside help. Sure, teachers are always there to help a student when needed, but getting comfortable with the body yourself is a task only the students can handle. It’s like; a mother can feed a child with her hands, but chewing the food has to be learnt by the child on his own. Hence, avoid assisting the students beyond certain limit.

·      Ignorant teachers: There are teachers who strongly believe that students can't learn yoga if they start teaching every little thing. That any assistance will hold students back from fully benefiting from yoga. These teachers are not lazy; they do this because they feel it is best for the students. But these teachers are sometimes oblivious to the ignorance they display. Students need to start slow and only then fly. Demonstration of asanas is not enough. One look is not enough for students to get the best out of their body. As repeatedly mentioned many times, yoga is a process, and a slow one at that. Here is another example. When a child first starts riding a bicycle, the parent holds it from behind and then sets the child free. If the parent does not hold the bicycle in the beginning the child might fall. This seems like an effective way of learning to some teachers, but it is has some drawbacks. The child will start balancing properly only when there’s enough confidence. Hence, start assisting students when they actually need it because they will hardly ever realize this. Teachers are the experienced ones, not the students.

Teachers always take actions in good faith, of course. But to find out what’s best for the students is necessary. Everybody has a different way of teaching yoga, no doubt about that. But there are things, which are common for all teachers. After all, even teachers have to learn, perpetually! Make the call, to assist or not to assist.

© Copyright 2014 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division


parvezbdjsr said...

Overly assisting a student may sometimes lead to lack of confidence, So a teacher should to know when to assist or not to assist for the students. Nice info.

Mary Wilson said...

Assisting in every little step is not a good way for learning, So teachers have to get a little creative and find a way to work out with the student in a way the student feels comfortable.

Zoe Wilson Jones said...

I want to learn yoga. Should I go to a class or try to learn on my own with dvds? Please help me. Don't know where to begin.

Kim Marie Shiah said...

in a class I appreciate some hands on assists to take my practice a little deeper. Now as a teacher in training, learning how and when to assist is more tricky. Zoe, I would recommend going to classes where you can learn proper alignment to avoid injury, and explore the various styles of yoga to find the one that works best for you :)